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Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette
Glee's Lauren Potter on set during an ad spot for PBS to help end the use of the R word-retarded on Saturday at the Courtyard Marriott.

'Glee' star Lauren Potter in town

Lauren Potter can get passionate about "the 'R' word."

Saturday, some of that passion was caught on video in Fort Wayne as the 23-year-old cast member from Fox's hit TV show "Glee," in town to speak at a disabilities awareness event, videotaped a public service announcement promoting an end to the use of the word "retard."

"I've heard the 'R' word all my life, and it makes me feel horrible!" said Potter, delivering a script as cameras rolled.

"Maybe," she added, "you didn't realize how much that word hurts."

Like the character the actress plays on "Glee," Cheerios cheerleading squad member Becky Jackson, Potter was born with Down syndrome. It's a genetic condition that limits her intellectual capabilities.

But that doesn't mean she, or people like her, are stupid, unworthy or an acceptable target for exclusion or bullying, said Megan Weaver of Fort Wayne, director of administration for the Down Syndrome Association of Northeast Indiana, a sponsor of Potter's visit.

After the shooting with Anchor Films, Fort Wayne, in the lobby of the Carson-Boxberger law firm, Potter gave a talk Saturday night at the Abilities Abound event in the Marriott Courtyard downtown.

During that gathering, attendees were invited to sign a pledge not to use the "R" word by scanning in a code on their mobile phones.

Weaver said the "Spread the Word to End the Word" national campaign promotes use of less-loaded language.

A person should not be described as "retarded" or "a retard," she said, adding that some affected people also object to the term "mental retardation."

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